Day Thirty-Two: Lust or Purity?

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Lust takes something holy and beautiful and distorts it for selfish purposes. “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5). This passage highlights that the physical and spiritual gift of sex is intended for the unity of husband and wife within marriage and for procreation. Lust, however, distorts this gift for self-centered ends, offering only fleeting physical pleasure that results in spiritual emptiness.

When two baptized persons marry, their union becomes a sacrament, elevating their sexual relationship to a spiritual level and enabling them to participate more fully in divine unity. This sacramental aspect of marriage is why the distortion of sexuality is a key tactic of the evil one, who hates these spiritual blessings.

Our world is becoming increasingly immodest, seductive, and sensual. The devil loves to manipulate natural sexual desires because he knows how powerful they are and how easily he can draw people to misuse this natural and spiritual gift. The devil also loves the shame and remorse one feels after falling into this temptation, and he loves how addictive habitual lust can become.

Sexuality itself is distorted in numerous ways today. Embracing one’s identity as a man or woman, as a son or daughter of God, involves transcending these distortions. Rejecting or attempting to change this God-given identity undermines the peace that comes from embracing it fully.

The cure to lust lies in chastity and purity of heart. Chastity orders one’s sexuality according to his or her state in life, fostering a holy unity in marriage and helping singles resist disordered temptations. Purity of heart goes further, allowing grace to direct all passions, including sexual desires, towards a selfless dedication to God and His will.

From the Cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus’ total self-giving to the Father exemplifies the ultimate response to impurity. Imitating and participating in Jesus’ self-giving in all aspects of life, including our sexuality, purifies our desires. By grace, we are called to selflessly give ourselves in accordance with our vocations, leading to purity of heart in all of our actions and within all of our passions. This purity helps overcome lust and other forms of selfishness.

Ponder your spiritual calling to be a gift to God and others through self-giving. Seeing this calling as a remedy to selfish impulses, especially in sexuality, is key. Striving for freedom through chastity and purity of mind, heart, body, and soul brings immense blessings and enables you to be the person God intends you to be.

My most pure Lord, Your whole life was a gift of total self-giving to Your Father and to all whom You have created and love. Please purify my soul so that I will be freed of every selfish desire and more faithfully make myself a gift of love. In that selfless giving, please re-order my passions and appetites so that I will love with Your heart and be freed of every sexual disorder and lust. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Thirty-Two: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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